I just released The Trailer Park Murder, the third book in The Woodhead & Becker Mysteries. This is the first book in the series I've released since the series was renamed—and I thought it would be a good time to talk about how I decided on the new name and identity for the series.
I’ve written about the origin of the series title, book names, themes, characters and covers of the Murders of Substance and how they were influenced by the 1987 album Substance from the British post-punk band New Order, and why I made the change to The Woodhead & Becker Mysteries. This post discusses the process behind the new titles.
After deciding to make the name and series change, I researched hardboiled mysteries and traditional whodunits for a few weeks. I briefly considered having the series title refer to Woodhead’s “super-smeller” ability—something like A Nose for Murder. However, there’s already a few books with that title, and they’re cozy mysteries with the owner of a doggy day care or a professional dog walker as the sleuth solving the murder. I’d already led potential readers astray thinking my books were zombie novels—I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed there wasn’t a cute canine taking center stage!
I landed on The Woodhead & Becker Mysteries for the series title, because having the sleuths’ names in the series title is really what most mystery fans expect.
I also researched titles of successful murder mystery series. As you probably know, The Fenway Stevenson Mysteries all follow the naming convention of “The XYZ Coroner.” Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone Mysteries follow a strict naming convention too: A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, and so forth. Faith Martin has several successful series: her Hillary Greene series follows the “Murder in the XYZ” convention (more or less), and her outstanding Ryder & Lovejoy books are all titled “A Fatal XYZ.”
I decided to take a page out of Faith Martin’s book and use the convention of “The XYZ Murder.” So Ceremony becomes The Winterstone Murder; likewise, Everything’s Gone Green becomes The Bridegroom Murder. It’s my hope that these new titles will more accurately set future readers’ expectations.
In the next (and final) post in this series, I’ll discuss the process of changing the covers… and discuss the full cover transformation for The Winterstone Murder and The Bridegroom Murder—and of course the newest addition, The Trailer Park Murder.